Assessment of Smallholder Farmers’ Participation in the Pineapple Value Chain Case Study: Luwero District, Central Uganda
Author: NAMBUUBI JULIET
Supervisor: John Byalebeka
This study assessed the participation of smallholder pineapple farmers in the pineapple value chain that was developed and supported by VEDCO, with particular focus on participation in the development and the implementation process. The general objective of this research was to assess the level of participation of smallholder pineapple farmers in the pineapple value chain in Luwero district, its contribution to their welfare, and the sustainability of the pineapple value chain once external support from VEDCO ended
The research took an ex-post design, using both qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Pineapple farmers participating in the pineapple value chain were the main targeted study population, and respondents were selected using purposive sampling. Methods of data collection used were interviews, questionnaires and observations; interview guide researcher administered semi-structured questionnaires, and observation checklists were the tools used.
The research found out that the participation of the smallholder pineapple farmers in the development, implementation of the pineapple value chain was largely low. Farmers passively participated and were involved by consultation; they answered questions and were being told what was going to be done. Participation was never interactive.
Despite the low participation in the development and implementation of the pineapple value chain, the pineapple value chain contributed to the improvement of the pineapple farmersí welfare through increased incomes, acquisition of assets, improving on land ownership, housing and access to water (via rain harvesting facilities), and energy for lighting (solar).
The research was alarmed by the facts pointing to the sustainability of the pineapple value chain, which is indeed threatened due to the high reduction in production among participating farmers in the value chain. This was attributed to the: Depleted soils and increased costs of production; collapsing farmers groups, and; bad farming practices (clearing of forests and use of synthetic fertilizers/herbicides) that greatly pose a threat to environmental sustainability.
The research, therefore, concludes that it is paramount to ensure people participation in joint analysis, and development and implementation of action plans. However, make certain to deploy interdisciplinary methodologies that seek multiple perspectives and use systematic and structured learning process. Moreover, to bolster this, strengthen of farmer groups, as local institutions.
Inherent to this the above, the research also concludes and recommends that there is need to continually re-orient the farmers on the good collaborative organic farming practices. In this collaborative action, buyers, for example, have to put focus on reviving production within farmersí localities through reviving soil fertility so as to safeguard the environment through reduced growing of pineapples in forests.
Organized pineapple buyers, particularly biofresh, also need to consider and ensure the co-existence of farmers and their groups alongside the value chain, since the former greatly affects the continuity of the later. Therefore, need to engage as many women and youths as possible and ensure their continuous recruitment and ongoing trainings in group management for sustained production and returns.